Explains Why He Set Up SAIL INNOVATION Lab
Senator Mukhail Adetokunbo Abiru (FCA) is the Lagos East Senator. On Friday 19th May, 2023, he got the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu to officially commission his project, the SAIL Innovation Lab at Ebute Ipakado in Ikorodu, Lagos. What is SAIL INNOVATION LAB all about? We can tell you that it was created in 2021 by Senator Mukh Adetokunbo Abiru, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Industries and the Senator representing Lagos East Senator District, as part of his endowment programme to drive you with empowerment and entrepreneurship. The innovation lab was created in partnership with Co-Creation Hub (CcHub, Africa’s first Innovation centre dedicated to accelerating economic prosper, and is run under the SAIL Foundation.
Established as a unique community innovation space for young people in Lagos East, SAIL’s primary purpose is to create employment opportunities, inspire grassroots innovation and buid partnerships and networks that will drive economic prosperity and solve significant social and business problems. The innovation lab ultimately provides a comfortable and safe environment for exploring innovative ideas. It offers basic foundations and cross-functional programmes and opportunities that inspire young people (students, graduates, entrepreneurs, and job seekers) Lagos East to gather, learn and create.
Below is what he said at the commissioning.
“We are gathered here today to mark a happy culmination of many years of consistency and a commitment to excellence in the midst of people who share these virtues; distinguished personalities who have pitched their tent with progressive and forward-thinking ideals. This Innovation Lab, which is to be officially commissioned in a couple of minutes, finds a strong place at the intersection between a world where disruptive thinking and innovation have become a routine and the roles that our young people should play in it.
I wish to express most sincere thanks to His Excellency, the Vice President-Elect, Senator Kashim Shettima who is the Special Guest of Honour today, and our Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency, Mr. Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu for accepting to do us the honour of commissioning this facility. I deeply appreciate you for taking out the time despite the heavy demands on his schedule. Thank you, Mr. Governor!
I also wish to thank most sincerely our members of the GAC, Royal fathers, technical partners, corporate titans, SAIL staff, members of ECF, parents/guardians. for the importance they have accorded to this event and for being here on this special day. I’ll be brief in my remarks.
Many years ago, it was enough to go to school and train to be a professional in a particular field, whether it be law, accounting, broadcasting, engineering, medicine and other disciplines. However, the realities of today have completely changed. Some of us may recall the quote by Alvin Tottler that “the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Allow me to submit that the illiterate of today, not the future, would not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot speak the new language of the world.
Ladies and gentlemen, the new language of the world is tech. All around us, we see how tech is shaping social interactions, disrupting how we live, work and interact with others. Quantum computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (lOTs) are now the buzzwords in a world that is changing faster than we can adapt to it.
I have given this context to set the tone for why the setting up of the SAIL Innovation Lab became necessary. It is not a project of the future. It is a project of today; one that needed to be done. Tech is the way and it was important to provide a platform for our ingenious youths in this district. My approach to my mandate is along 3 pillars of 1) Legislation and Policy Formulation; 2) Empowerment and Facilitation: 3) Endowment. The SAIL Project is under my Endowment Pillar and I will give you a background about the SAIL Innovation Lab. It took off in 2021 in partnership with Co-Creation Hub (CCHub), as Dr. Bosun Tijani had earlier mentioned to deepen the acceptance of tech innovation in the Lagos East Senatorial District, using a human-centred approach. The innovation lab facility is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and is managed 100% by Co-Creation Hub, which is arguably the biggest innovation hub in Africa and by highly-trained facilitators who take on the wide range of programmes we offer. Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I need to express that the programmes we offer in the innovation lab cost a significant sum, but it is offered free-of-charge to participants who come from different parts of the Lagos East Senatorial District.
Since inception, the innovation lab has recorded some significant milestones. Till date, over 490 participants have benefitted from the several programmes, in-person, while over 2,000 have participated in the online programmes. As of today, the SAIL offers the following the programme: Tech Talent Development Programme: Cultivating tech expertise and entrepreneurial skills among participants, turning complete novices into full-stack junior developers in just 6 months. The first cohort had 30 participants and about 20 of them are gainfully employed with some running their own tech businesses. The current cohort of 120 shall also be placed on jobs as we continue to create job pipelines with the private sector. •STEM for Senior Secondary School Students: Fostering interest in science, technology,
engineering, and mathematics and exposure to physical computing. We have completed 2 cohorts with Teenagers and also ran boot camp for 40 students during their last holiday in March / April 2023. We have on-boarded between 10-20 public schools in the district that are allowed to make use of the STEM lab daily for their students. We commute the students safely with buses to and fro their schools and SAIL so as to ease the pressure of transportation.
- Lagos East Teachers Fellowship: Improving educators’ capacity to promote innovation and excellence in teaching through Inquiry-Based Learning approaches to impart knowledge. About 180 teachers across the district have been taught in-class and over 1,500 online. The teachers’ lounge which is a unique community for teachers in the district has been set up at SAIL and they now have unrestricted access to make use of the lab for study and research while they also meet every friday for capacity building and networking.
- Start-Up Accelerator: Supporting start-ups through mentorship and resources to scale their businesses.
- Community Events and Ecosystem Engagements: Plan, organise and facilitate community events and engagements with critical ecosystem stakeholders geared towards building a collaborative and sustainable innovation ecosystem that fosters entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic growth within Lagos East.
In this age where digital skills are high in-demand, the lab will help to bridge the resource-gap. In the coming months and years, we will be offering a range of training programs in areas such as digital product design, data science, metaverse, etc.
We will also be providing access to cutting-edge technology and resources, to support our participants as they develop their skills. We will work closely with indigenous employers and other stakeholders to ensure that our programmes meet the needs of the market and provide our graduates with real career opportunities.
Ladies and gentlemen, in the audience today, we have some members of previous and current cohorts of the various programmes with some of our esteemed parents. Our technical partners are also well represented in this gathering.
Before I conclude, I must seize this moment to appreciate the entire Abiru family, beginning with our late patriarch, Senator (The Honourable Justice) Mubashiru Akanbi Abiru who left behind a legacy of service and sacrifice, and my my siblings who are all here, for their understanding and unwavering support in making this facility a reality. None of this would have been possible without them. Because it is important to give honour to whom it is due, I must acknowledge my brothers and sisters and kindly ask that they stand for recognition as I call their names:
(1) Mr Hakeem G Abiru (2) Ms. Idayat K Abiru (3) Mr Kazeem K Abiru (4) Mr. Ameen B Abiru (5) Mr. Hamzat B Abiru (6) Hon. Justice Habeeb A Abiru (JCA) (7) Mrs. Seliat I Olorunfunmi (8) Hon. Rotimi L. Abiru (9) Mr. Moshood. A. Abiru.
My lovely wife, Mrs. Surat Feyisola Abiru, my dependable partner on this journey, deserves all the thanks for her incredible support and inspiration. The SAIL Innovation Lab was a journey we started together and I am happy we are both witnessing this new chapter together.
I am confident that the SAIL Innovation Lab will be a valuable asset for the community, and I am grateful to all of the stakeholders who have supported this project. I look forward to seeing the impact it will have on the lives of our young people, and I encourage all interested participants to apply and take advantage of this opportunity.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is now my singular honour to invite Mr. Governor to give his keynote address and thereafter lead in the official commissioning of the SAIL Innovation Lab.